Alaska Airlines Divorces from American Airlines… Now What?

In what came as a shock to most and not a surprise to many, Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that they would be cutting ties with American Airlines in a few short months. The relationship was already on the rocks and it appears that all the group therapy classes in the world couldn’t save this relationship. So, now that Alaska has lost another partner, what does this mean for Alaska and American loyalists? Where do we go from here?

The News

In about as a generic of an announcement as possible, Alaska Airlines announced some “changes” would be coming to their AA partnership. Let’s be honest, these aren’t changes, it’s on life support. You won’t be able to earn on international flights. You won’t be able to redeem miles for flights. You won’t earn on anything post March 1st. But don’t worry, you can still get into their crummy admiral’s clubs!

Admiral’s club directions

State of the CURRENT Partnership

As of today, the American and Alaska partnership is strong and still active. Alaska Airlines members can still earn on domestic flights (with an Alaska codeshare number) and they can earn on International flights.

The mileage earning depends, as most partnerships, with the class of service booked. Here’s the chart for current travel.

Paid Business Class, Premium Economy, and Some high economy fares earn 100% of the mileage flown while cheap economy fares run 25-75% of the miles flown.

State of the FUTURE Partnership

As of March 1st, 2020:

  • You will no longer earn Mileage Plan miles on American Airlines international flights.
  • You will no longer be able to redeem miles for award travel on American Airlines domestic or international flights.

For trips booked on or after October 2, 2019, travel must be completed by February 29, 2020 in order to earn miles. Trips booked before October 2, 2019 for travel after February 29, 2020 are still eligible to earn Alaska miles by submitting a mileage credit request after your flight is completed.

So, the good news is that if you’ve booked a flight with the knowledge that you would have earned miles in the past, Alaska is going to honor those points requests. You’ll just have to submit those forms manually. If you want to book something for March, April, or beyond, I hope that you like earning AA or Oneworld miles because you’re S.O.L.

American Airlines over SXM from qsl.net

Does this make Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan weaker?

In short, it sure does. The loss of a partner is never a good thing, especially for frequent fliers of Alaska. I just redeemed miles to fly Montevideo to Miami to Seattle with Alaska miles, and not having that option anymore sucks.

American has a great network throughout Europe, Central and South America. To not have access certainly puts a damper on my use of miles. 

Now that LATAM is being supported by a 20% state from Delta Airlines, expect LATAM to fall off the map soon as well. Delta, Air France, KLM, and Aeromexico all severed ties with Alaska so I full expect that LATAM will start to feel the pressure soon. If we’re being honest, the LATAM partnership wasn’t that strong to begin with. For example, when LAN merged with TAM, only LAN flights were bookable. Previous JJ (TAM) flights still, to this day, are not bookable via Alaska Airlines nor can you redeem your miles.

Now that American has gone and LATAM is soon to fall, what South American presence does Alaska Airlines have? The answer, in short, is none. American and LATAM are gone, Avianca and Copa don’t really have any benefit to join up. GOL is partnered with Delta and Azul Airlines is mostly a Brazil operation.

Simply put, in South America, Alaska is in trouble.

LATAM Airlines, from their facebook account

from LATAM

The lack of the American Airlines partnership won’t get me to fly less, but I start looking for better ways to redeem points for AA flights. They’ve got a great route network that I loved to have access to. I suppose the question now is, where can I burn some miles to fly on American one last time…?

Does this divorce hurt your relationship at all with Alaska or American?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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7 Comments

  1. Being physically based in Alaska, using easy to acquire AA miles on AS flights was awesome. Now that that partnership is gone I guess I just have to look at earning more AS miles.

    I am going to have to look at burning all my AA miles prior to the March 1st date or plan my travel around AA’s seasonal service to ANC. It was actually a decent use of the miles when AA was flying 757 and 787s from ANC to DFW in the summer but it looks like they are only flying A321s next year.

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    • Looks like they moved those dreamliners to long distance routes. They were actually doing dreamliners from DFW to ANC? Wow…

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  2. Obviously, AA was the impetus behind this move although both airlines lose big time. What I can’t understand is how even a board of directors as painfully inept as American’s would let something like this happen. As VFTW has repeatedly pointed out, American only makes money through their frequent flier program. Why on earth would they allow Doug Parker to weaken the only thing that the airline is doing right? They should be desperately adding partners, not killing off the ones they have. This is yet another example of why American badly needs a new board to hopefully bring in competent management.

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  3. The Korean Air-Delta joint venture approval was conditioned on Delta not interfering on the Alaska relationship. There is no reason to think the LATAM-Delta approval won’t require the same thing.

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  4. I was already in the process of divorcing Alaska Airlines – this just nails the coffin shut.

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  5. I avoid AA at all costs. They are the worst airline on almost every measure, whether punctuality and completion factor or employee courtesy. And even top tier AS flyers were treated like nothing. Good riddance.

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    • They’ve been my go-to for South America redemptions. I still plan on making a bunch of speculative bookings into 2020 for South America travel!

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